Monday, June 28, 2010

Nude Woman Steals Cars, Probably Not Mormon

It seems odd that Utah keeps popping up on the weirdo radar when citizens are severely under-caffeinated and should be completely exhausted, especially with the multiple-wife deal.

This will eventually be a Lifetime movie starring Jennifer Love Hewitt.

The plot: A naked woman jumps into the front seat of a guy's car as he was putting up signs on the side of the road and proceeds to motor off. Righteously indignant, sign man springs into naked woman's abandoned wheels and gives chase, calling the po-lice as he goes into full Dukes of Hazzard mode.

Naked woman crashes and escapes on foot, soon to be surrounded by panting, Taser-happy cops, so she makes the right military decision. Attack!

She charges at the cops, who can't corral her because she's bloody and slippery from her aforementioned wipeout. Naked woman slithers past the fuzz and drops into a patrol car, speeding off with the Keystone Kops in full pursuit. Then Dukes, them Dukes!

Being a naked woman with no formal police training, she eventually crashes the cruiser, runs off, scales a barbed-wire fence, and scurries around before being encircled by cops and lit-up like fireworks by Tasers.

Authorities said there were no indications of drugs or alcohol. Maybe the clothing burned her flesh.

I can see Love Hewitt's saucy breasts bouncing as she hurtles down the road, demurely biting her lower lip as she powerslides around corners before running in slo-mo while the fuzz try to zap her bejeweled bajingo like she's a duck plinker game at the state fair. Win me a stuffed giraffe, Daddy!

I'm rooting for you, Jennifer, in your quest to pull off a bra-free Cannonball Run. You certainly have the ammunition.

Salt Lake Tribune

Replace Your Dog With An AT-AT

At least the AT-AT wouldn't poop on my carpet. I hope.

Robert Byrd - Pork Fritter

In the many tributes to Senator Robert Byrd, nearly all mentioned his acumen at bringing home the bacon to West-By-God Virginia.

I think Radley Balko said it best:

So if I’m correctly reading the various tributes to Sen. Robert Byrd floating around the web this morning, I’m supposed to celebrate how the man atoned for his bigotry earlier in life by devoting the rest of his life to public service . . . where he used other people’s money to build monuments to himself.

Fred Thompson, Sleazy Huckster

It seems like only yesterday that Fred Thompson was sleepwalking his way through a doomed bid to win the Republican nomination and eventually lose to Barack Obama.

He was a true small government conservative though, with his fake pick-up truck and ginned up populism. Government needs to get out of the people's biz-ness. Government spending is out of control. Boot-strapping. Law & Order. Blech.

Now Fred is shilling for reverse mortgages that target his peers - old folks who can't afford their medicine because Republicans like Thompson keep shitting on meaningful health care reform.

Did you catch the "full government backup" angle there? Holy negative equity, Batman! Government guarantees of private loans seem, on the surface, diametrically opposed to every tenet Thompson formerly espoused on the campaign trail.

Perhaps Thompson is simply reading from the worn Republican script in which it's perfectly acceptable to ignore your belief system if you can make a bathtub of cash in the process.

Observation: Fred is really beginning to resemble E.T.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee in the Backyard Gazebo

Treme - A Good Man Slips Beneath The Water

Photo courtesy HBO
If you're watching the HBO series Treme and haven't made it to the final two episodes of season one, you might want to stop reading. There are spoiler alerts ahead.

It's been a struggle at times to hang with Treme as the first season unfolds. Much like New Orleans itself, Treme has a languid approach to developing the core characters and the settings in which they exist. Change comes slowly in the bayou, except when it doesn't.

Most of us have a preconceived notion of NOLA, how it existed before Katrina and after. That cognitive bias bumps against a fictionalized portrayal that includes video snippets we've previously seen on newscasts and documentaries. Newsreel footage transitions to actors on film, seamlessly.

Coming to terms with what we know to be true, what we wish was true, and what actors playing locals painfully demonstrate is true in their world can be both enlightening and draining. Treme isn't a show best enjoyed by passive viewers any more than New Orleans is best experienced by looking out your St. Pierre Hotel window.

John Goodman portrays Creighton Bernette, an English professor at Tulane University who is alternately saddened, enraged, and hopeful post-Katrina. "Cray", as he was affectionate called by his friends and family, was quick to express his outrage and contempt with the federal response to the hurricane, recording YouTube videos with his webcam, equal parts professorial and Lewis Black. But it was obvious that his city was slowly dying, with all efforts to resuscitate the Big Easy mostly ineffectual and in many ways prolonging the agony of the patient.

As Cray searched for hints of a comeback in local music, food, and even in the cleanup, he was stung by a thousand arrows of disappointment. It's like attempting to replicate a food or drink from your youth - even if the exact recipe is known, it's never quite the same, because the food chemistry needs the accompanying cultural anthropology to be complete. It wasn't the peach ice cream you made as a kid. It was everything that led up to making it, and the experience of savoring the flavors at that time, in that place.

Cray's frame of reference had shifted even as the locale remained. People were dead, or in Houston, or displaced. Suffering and hardship ran as the undercurrent of the city, at times more powerful than the Mississippi. Being knocked on your ass is one thing, but when everyone in your support network is knocked on their ass too, where do you turn?

Especially for a writer, an educator, one who has built a career herding thought and emotion into a chute that spits out powerful prose, enlightened and evocative, like the authors he foists on freshmen to get them to look beyond a book as merely something with a beginning, middle, and end.

There are some things in life that just can't be fixed, no matter if you have the original blueprints, or a collection of artists who helped build it the first time. Sheer desire to reconstruct an earlier time isn't enough when the force of change was so massive that it disrupts not just a city, but a way of life. Katrina wasn't incremental change. Katrina was overwhelming destruction of buildings, culture, and psyche.

For Cray, the multi-threaded beauty that was pre-Katrina was lost, and with it, his ability to recapture the passion for a life made more rich by all the city was. There's a good chance New Orleans will never again be what it was. My last visit, nearly two years after the storm, was a stomach-punch, and I'm not a resident, my life-blood forever linked with the city. The despair was palpable even as those who remained did the best they could with reduced hours, manpower shortages, and tired, sunken eyes.

Cray urged his wife to "kick some ass" on that final day as she left for work, pulled the earbuds from his daughter's head to make sure she heard him say that she was looking particularly beautiful that day. His students were released early from class, encouraged by Cray to go read in the bright sunshine of a glorious day.  He had a bowl of gumbo and a bbq shrimp sandwich with his two Abita beers at lunch, and headed toward the ferry. Bumming a cigarette from a fellow passenger, he stood by the railing, inhaled the nicotine he had abandoned years before, and watched his city slide past as the ferry chugged along.

Then, out of camera frame, he slipped over the rail, under the water, and was forever lost, like so many others since August 29, 2005.

Left behind was a wife and daughter, devastated and inconsolable, faced with hanging on day to day as the only way to survive such a great tragedy. Such is New Orleans.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lewis Black on the Oil Spill

Egrets are screwed.
Lewis Black - Exclusive - Gulf Oil Spill
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Megan Fox or Naked Mannequin - You Make The Call

Don't Try To Win A Staring Contest With A Muppet

Spinach Ick

I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. And they put it in a jar.

Bobby Jindal Confuses Invocation With Reaction

Media coverage of the Gulf oil spill has prominently featured Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal criticizing BP and the Obama administration for a perceived lack of rapid response to the crisis which has led to significant environmental and economic hardship for his state.

Let's ignore for a moment Jindal's call to resume deep water drilling and exploration, even though another incident would be catastrophic given that all available response resources are currently deployed and have proven to be inadequate. I'm sure Bobby is betting the likelihood of a second disaster is more remote than the odds of a return to the national political stage, and Republicans seem to have no aversion to rogering their constituents for personal gain.

It's been widely reported that Jindal has been stuck in the mud when it comes to activating Louisiana National Guard troops to supplement BP's responders. Jindal has called out only 1/6 of the soldiers authorized by President Obama, and has changed his story several times when questioned by the media, first blaming the Coast Guard for not approving his requests, after which Commander Thad Allen called bullshit. Suddenly, Jindal conceded that he hadn't actually requested more Guard presence. Darn those pesky facts, y'all.

Jindal has found time to issue an order designating June 27 a "Statewide Day of Prayer" so that folks can read scriptures and utter devotionals rather than clean birds and deploy segments of boom. There's no data available of how much praying it takes to stem the daily flow of 90,000 barrels of oil and natural gas from the ocean floor, but I'm guessing it's significant.

What's maddening is how typical Jindal's ideas and rhetoric have been.

  • Criticize the performance of others even when you haven't articulated better solutions.
  • Fudge the truth when your own ineptitude is publicized. 
  • Support the same business entities that created the crisis at the expense of those you are accountable to protect. 
  • Discard science in favor of religion.

Sadly, the people of Louisiana keep electing politicians like Jindal in response to faux populist outrage about federal intervention and a false sense of self-sustenance. In ten years, Jindal will be rich and leading a comfortable existence somewhere. His constituents will inhabit an oil-soaked economy for decades to come.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Chris Dodd Is Happy About Something Or Other

Radley Balko sums it up:

"It's a great moment. I'm proud to have been here. No one will know until this is actually in place how it works. But we believe we've done something that has been needed for a long time. It took a crisis to bring us to the point where we could actually get this job done."
That's a "teary" Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), on the financial overhaul bill assembled by leaders in both houses this week. So Dodd, the chair of the committee with jurisdiction over the bill, has no idea how the bill work. Which also means he has no idea if it will work. Which also means he has no idea if the bill will do more harm than good. Nonetheless, he's certain it was needed, and is proud to have helped make it happen.

And people wonder why the US Senate is held is such disdain.

Rachel Maddow's Gulf Oil Map

Well, when you look at it using a map, the uproar over halting exploratory drilling seems even more ridiculous.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Afterlife: So Long and Thanks For All The Fish

Lots of folks badly want to believe that there's something after this. An afterlife.

Heaven, Shangri-la, Paradise, Zion, Arcadia, Valhalla for all you viking dudes. Nirvana for the Buddhists in the house. Falak al aflak. Some beatific Hotel California where all your dead relatives can check out anytime they want, but they can never leave. Just like Christmas time. Pause for a Joe Walsh guitar riff.

I don't know why it's so important to believe there's something majestic awaiting us once we pull up the sod covers. Perhaps people are terrified of their relative insignificance in the spectrum of time, or they believe the combination of a legacy on Earth and celestial potluck dinners will bring them closer to living forever and ever, amen.

My belief system is just that. Mine. I'm not trying to convince anyone it's better, or put the kibosh on what gets the rest of you through the long, cold winters of life. By the time you become an expert on what happens next, your calling card is canceled or there are no cell towers on the other side, otherwise someone from the billions of the dearly departed would have shouted over the fence by now and clued us mortals in.

Life is a roller coaster ride. You get one ticket, strap yourself in, and off you go. Some people love it, Some hate it. A few shit their pants or won't open their eyes. Occasionally some dumb ass falls out and dies early because, well, that's what dumb asses do. The rest of us ride until the cars stop, and that's it. Ride over. You don't need to go home, but you can't stay here.

Someone posted an afterlife question over at Dear Coke Talk, and I really liked her response, so I'll post a snippet. I'm interested to see if you agree. You have to promise to go read the whole thing, though. It's only fair.

I understand why it makes you feel better to believe in some nebulous metaphysical afterlife, but at the end of the day, if you’re claiming to have revealed knowledge about a consciousness beyond death, you’re still just making shit up.

Nobody knows what happens after death. Odds are, not a fucking thing. It’s probably just a vast sea of nothingness stretching out to an eternity that we were never meant to comprehend in the first place.

I know. It’s scary. You’re born pink and helpless into an infinite universe. You experience a narrow, self-centered consciousness still very much tethered to its lowly reptilian origins. If you’re lucky, the grey meat behind your eyes keeps warm long enough for you to experience about forty million minutes of self-awareness. That’s it. That’s all.

When the blood stops flowing to your skull, your consciousness will simply cease to exist. Don’t worry. You won’t feel a thing.

As I study Buddhism and wrestle with the concept of impermanence as it pokes reincarnation right in the eye, part of me pines to see my mom and dad again, my daughter, two sisters who perished far too young. But I also yearn for the occasional Five Guys burger and a jolt of capsaicin on my tongue. One is achievable, although it might hasten my boat trip down the River Styx, while the other is a wish, a hope, blue-sky aspiration.

As I grow older and feel time slipping away, it's important that I live this one life taking in "forty million moments of self-awareness" rather than cruising at certain places, thinking that somehow this is just the first leg of something.

I've known those who voice regrets as their hours slip away, rueful cries of what they might have done differently if given the chance, but none of the alternate storylines changes the final scene. We're here and then we're gone, unless you're into one of those ghost chaser shows on TLC or History Channel.

I've watched the light grow dim in someone's eyes until it flickers out, leaving nothing but two orbs taking in an eternity of darkness. Muscles relax, the face sags, and they are gone. Maybe it's their spiritual energy that has flown away on the wings of angels. Hard to prove either way. The truth is we're not here. We are not we. And once we stop being we, there's nothing to grasp but a biological vessel that begins to decay and smell in the hot summer sun.

So I'm trying to be present, here and now, experiencing as many of the millions of self-aware moments as I can, with family and friends, with strangers, alone at times. This is my ride and there's so much to see before it ends. I don't want to miss bits and pieces while I'm shilling for a good seat in Utopia.

David Letterman was asked what he thought heaven was like, and he said, "It's like a really big gymnasium." When prompted for how we saw himself there, Letterman quipped, "With really bad seats."

I would rather have front-row box seats to my life than to hope for something with sight-lines not blocked by girders in the Everlasting Ecumenical Tostitos Bowl, and I don't think I'm the only one. And that's as equal an act of faith as putting your eggs into the God basket.

I believe. I believe I'm here to live my life and to share it with those who have come before and those who will remain when I'm gone, combination Venn diagram and low fat diet with a Crestor thrown in like an after-dinner mint.

For some, the ride lasts too long. For others, too short. I want to be baby bear. Just right.

But more than anything I want to soak in my minutes, wrap them around me to comfort me when I'm alone and cold, sharing when I see others chilled. The Gospel of Kev: Do Unto Others and Watch Everything You Can, Lest You Perish With Unused Minutes on the Clock And Unsaid Words On Your Lips.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Energy Independence? When Pigs Fly

Jon Stewart lifts the curtain.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
An Energy-Independent Future
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Real Time Mario Soundtrack By Violin

Mr. President, your flowery verbiage is opaque and perplexing

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Obama's Simplified BP Oil Spill Speech
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Political Arm Twisting

If I'm to understand the current right-wing outrage being fanned by lazy media types, President Obama was slow to react to the oil spill and was a weak-kneed, spineless jellyfish for not meeting with BP's CEO, right up to the point of Obama's sit-down with Tony Hayward that secured BP's commitment to funding a $20 billion escrow fund.

At that moment, Obama transformed into a Chicago thug employing political arm-twisting that violates the Constitution.

Obama isn't even a US citizen, you know.

Father's Day Marketing

Father's Day advertisements suggest corporations want my family to facilitate me catching skin cancer on the golf course while wearing bad pants and chugging scotch whiskey.

Was it something I said?

Ball Waxing For Charity

Some accept pledges for each mile they walk. Others go door-to-door, soliciting funds for a worthy cause.

Not Joe Cooper. He volunteered for a scrotal Brazilian in the name of charity. It nearly cost him a testicle.

Cooper's bikini waxing ripped off six of seven layers of his nutsack skin. I'll pause while male readers grimace and females mutter under their breath.

Not that it matters, but Joe is a steel erector. That's what she said.

Give 'til it hurts, Joe. Give 'til it hurts.

Brazilian nearly cost me my nuts

Gay Blood is Icky?

Sam Seder calls bullshit.

How To Do A Political Apology

Monty Python demonstrates the correct way to apologize.

Norah Jones - Are You Lonesome Tonight?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Comic Sans Takes A Stand

Comic Sans is mad is hell and isn't going to take it anymore.

Timothy McSweeney via Kevin Drum

Obama and TV and Oil (Oh My!)

Just hit me over the head with a plank, would ya?

I swear to FSM, it's absolutely impossible to flick a spot of lint off of your sleeve in this country without someone becoming outraged, belligerent, and nonsensical on the TV box. Like teaching a pig to dance, it wastes valuable time and annoys Sarah Palin.

So the Big Guy, looking uncomfortable perched behind the desk in the Oval Office, tried to draw an intellectual and emotional straight line between where we were and where we need to be when it comes to BP. I'm not sure why it was necessary, but good for him for giving it a shot, knowing full well that it wouldn't solve anything, and it certainly wouldn't quiet his critics. But it's part of the gig, so there he was. Hopey changey.

Within seconds of the President completing his remarks, the verdict was in. It was too little. Too late. Too soft on BP. Too lacking in taking responsibility for a slow government response. Too aggressive. Too many oil jobs will be lost. Too many other jobs have already vanished.

I think MMonides at Balloon Juice captured it perfectly:

IM less than HO, POTUS addressed every issue he needed to last night. He discussed the past, how we got in this situation, his own mistake in believing the safety technology was sufficient, the government response, and BP’s “recklessness.” He went on to commit to the Gulf’s recovery and to accountability, and presented a blue print for our government’s next steps. He tied the situation to our energy policy specifically, but without pushing any hot-button issues. He acknowledged MMS corruption, and his Administration’s plans to address it. He even pointed out how our addiction to fossil fuels has led us to us to risky deep water drilling, and how the environmental costs of fossil fuels far outweighs any energy tax. He continued to be the mature one in the room, asking his opposition for ideas instead of attacks.

It was sober, responsible, and an important update for confused citizens trying to understand this situation, presented by their POTUS in simple language that was designed to inform and reassure.

But, unfortunately he did not declare an end to fossil fuels. Or he did not mention cap and trade specifically. Or he did not put pressure on the Senate. Or he made a religious reference. Or he should not make religious references because he doesn’t attend Sunday services. Or he’s trying to use this disaster as to redistribute wealth.

Here's the problem: It's not his fault. It's ours.

We refuse to drive smaller cars that get better mileage, or force the development of alternative fuel sources. We don't hold Congress accountable for campaign largess provided by oil companies and we feign surprise at the resultant quid pro quo. We capitulate to a revolving door between government and industry that protects existing interests and shifts the burden to the people while a select few amass a fortune.

Each time the issue of energy independence is raised, reasonable discussion is shouted down by the "Drill, Baby, Drill" crowd that fails to acknowledge the connection between renewable energy and national security. We, the people, have for decades funded intolerable regimes and terrorist organizations with our insatiable lust for fuel.

What could be more un-American than sending our best to fight and die because we lack the intestinal fortitude to sacrifice and chart a different course? If my dad was part of the greatest generation, then we're part of the greatest rationalization.

It's getting harder and riskier to find our own oil. More costly, too. The true price is finally playing out before our eyes in the form of dead workers, a crippled company, suffocating fowl, and a decimated environment.

BP shit in our gulf because we enticed them in a myriad of ways. And now the pols and talking heads have the nerve to be outraged as we struggle to find the best way to drag ourselves out of this primordial ooze?

Go grab a shovel or some boom, you sanctimonious poseurs.

Pac Man vs. Mario

The Johnny Cash Project

A crowd-sourced video/art/music effort, the Johnny Cash Project allows fans and artists to submit their own drawings of Cash that are integrated into a single music video.

The results are both impressive and touching.

The Johnny Cash Project

Sarah Palin - The Olive Oyl of Energy Policy

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2012 Republican nominee for President.

Yeah, Obama isn't focused on stopping the leak. That would put an end to all this media sniping that he so obviously relishes.

Is Obama Really Cartman?

Wouldn't it be great if we had a mainstream media who was able to present a cogent expose' of the constant attack on civil liberties that wasn't colored by, say, comedy?

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Respect My Authoritah
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Bobblespeak Translation of Obama's Oil Speech

It's funny, because it's true:

I’ve got top people in charge of this like Admiral Thad Allen - now I know the man may be a little dim but he has great experience facing disasters - he once worked in the Bush administration!

I’ve got 20,000 National Guard ready to help people file lawsuits -- so state governors, activate them already!!

We’re working hard to assist Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida in this time of crisis -- with any luck they will soon enter the 20th century!!

But let’s get real people - sadly, no matter how effective our response is, we’re under siege from oil and that’s not going to change! I’ve talked to shrimpers, local residents and Alex Trebek and we are in double fucking jeopardy!

You Clearly Don't Understand The Point of a Penis

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hunting Bin Laden With A Sword

Hunting Osama Bin Laden with the 101st Airborne and the 10th Mountain Division didn't turn out so well, so why are we harshing the mellow of a 52- year-old American dude with a handgun and a sword?

Digby Has A New Rule

It's a pretty good one:

Any deficit scold who doesn't put reducing health care costs at the very top of the agenda is just a demagogic crank doing the dirty work for the aristocratic overlords.

Basic Arithmetic

KT Tunstall - Other Side of the World

Monday, June 14, 2010

Arizona Politician Gets Schooled

As Arizona plunges forward in their quest to become the laughingstock of the world, it's gotten so ridiculous that a high school journalism student makes an elected official stammer, stutter, and run away when confronted by his very own voting record.

As noted in the Maddow blog, a seasoned pol, especially one running to become Arizona's schools superintendent, should have no problem answering some simple funding questions. And yet...

Maddow Blog

Jeff Beck - Drown In My Own Tears

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Drunk Ohio Woman Poops Pants During Traffic Stop, Blames Corn

Pick the true statements from the following list:

  1. 46 year old Wendy Phillips was driving drunk.
  2. Her 4 year old daughter was in the back seat.
  3. She pulled in front of a police cruiser and nearly crashed into a stop sign.
  4. She tossed an empty vodka bottle out the window, breaking it on the courthouse driveway.
  5. She shit her pants during the traffic stop, blaming it on eating too much corn.
  6. She is one of the worst mothers on the planet.
If you picked all of the above, you are correct-a-mundo.

Phillips has a previous drunk driving charge, so she's obviously attempting to top her prior effort. One of these days, she's going to kill someone. Let's hope that it's not her innocent daughter.

Now would be a good time for those zero-tolerance drunk driving sentences to kick in.


Boehner Flip Flops on BP Liability Cap

Orange Julius House Minority Leader John "Man Tan" Boehner has changed his tune yet again, calling for the liability cap against BP to be lifted entirely.

Like a drunken sailor on his first night of shore leave, Boehner has lurched to-and-fro on BP, his position morphing in response to howls of outrage from sane people everywhere each time he opens his smoke-billowing mouth and draws a new indefensible line in the oil drenched sand.

Perhaps Boehner realizes that BP's precipitous drop in market capitalization means they won't be tossing large campaign donations his way anytime soon, and even if they did, progressives will be following the money and squawking loudly at any politician accepting petroleum largess until every last dime of cleanup cost and restitution has been paid, which certainly won't be this year, and perhaps not 2011 either.

If Boehner could blame oily birds on abortion and Obama, he certainly would. But even the most dense of our citizenry is beginning to connect the dots between regulatory impotence, lax oversight, and obscene safety shortcuts in the name of profits, and Republicans have been selling dot ink for decades. It's difficult to proclaim your innocence when the public plainly sees the blood on your hands.

So it's politically beneficial for Boehner to zig after he's zagged, because the zealots who vote for him obviously buy what he's selling. Sad, but true. Until the Great Miami River is awash in crude, folks are more interested in affordable fuel for their SUVs and pickup trucks.

Drill, baby, drill.

Wonder what Boehner's next position will be? Toss your guesses into the comments.

I9 Avalon Bowl Flag Football Benefit

Today was the end of our I9 spring flag football season, and if ever there was an arc of games serving as a metaphor for life, this past three months was it, culminating in bowl games to support a young girl with leukemia.

I9 has a philosophy of nine core concepts that are the league's focus. It's not about winning so much - although some of the coaches and parents seem to forget that in the heat of battle - but more about skill development and instilling suitable values into kids at a young age in the hope that some of what's taught will stick later.

Coaching a gaggle of 1st through 4th graders of varying experience levels is a lot like pushing a rope: The harder you push, the more sideways the rope moves. That's where focusing on teamwork, fair play, and skill development comes in. And we certainly had a mixed group of eight young men this time around.

Two were less interested in what was going on in practice and games than they were everything else going on around them. One was a six year old who was experiencing his first team sport and who, by the third game, had already learned which direction to run when handed the ball.

Five of the boys had played before and were each talented in different ways, each fighting the pre-pubescent combination of awkwardness, self-consciousness, and a burning desire to score a touchdown on every play.

But what made the season special was how our boys stuck together. We twice played a team that was hyper-aggressive, with the coaches and players each pushing the limits of what was allowed, often stepping over the line. In our second meeting, one of their players was suspended by the league after he stuck his foot out from where he was standing on the sideline and tripped our running back, who was sprinting for a certain score. Rough play, pseudo-tackles rather than flag pulls, trash-talking, parental poor sports - they had it all. But we kept our heads and continued preaching our kind of football. Let the other guys talk. We'll play hard, but clean. If they knock us down, we'll pop back up and trot back to the huddle. Let the ref do his job, and we'll do ours.

We beat them both times.

It was a rainy spring. We played in mud, and cold, and drizzle. One week we baked in the hot sun, and the next was long pants and sweatshirts. We won some and lost some, but we had a good time, and all the boys got better. Well, mostly.

Today was the last game of the season, a sort of playoff, not in our usual grass soccer/baseball complex but in a high school stadium with field turf, bleachers, a public address system, and real bathrooms. And it was a game played for a reason.

It was called the Avalon Bowl, named after a little girl who has battled leukemia since she was 17 months old. Her medical bills are enormous, and she suffered a significant brain injury in one of her recent treatments. So the game was turned into a fundraiser for Avalon.

Her favorite color is yellow. When she sees someone wearing yellow, it makes her happy, and Avalon believes people are wearing it just for her. So today, the coaches wore yellow shirts. The players sported yellow wristbands. Parents and friends donned lemon and saffron, gold and canary. For $12, fans could purchase bright yellow Avalon Bowl shirts, and they sold like sunny hotcakes. Some kids solicited monetary commitments for each touchdown they scored or flag they pulled. Lots of yellow wristbands were sold for $1 each. It was a big, heartfelt goldenrod hug.

During the trophy presentation after the games, Avalon's parents brought her wheelchair over to the canopy where we were all gathered. They thanked us for putting on such a show for their daughter and to express their gratitude for the contributions. It was an opportunity for all of us to reflect on how lucky we are to be able to run around and participate in a team sport, and it makes the challenges faced by pre-teen boys on a fifty yard field seem inconsequential. I could tell some of the players felt it. I know I did.

We worked hard all season to come together as a team, be good sports, and learn some football skills. I think we succeeded at all three. It seemed fitting that at the pinnacle of our time together, we were reminded that there are others who regularly face far greater challenges than first downs or poor sportsmanship, and that it brings out the best in all of us when we're able to come together to help those who need it most.

Good luck, Avalon. Thanks for touching our lives. We hope you win.

Billie Holiday - The Blues Are Brewin'

Friday, June 11, 2010

Deleted Your Facebook Account? Think Again

Via BoingBoing - if you think that deleting your Facebook account makes it go away, think again.

Jason Calacanis deleted his, but it didn't disappear. The reason? If third-party sites like Twitter or YouTube make updates to your account within 14 days of you closing it, Facebook resets the process.

Hard to believe people are finally pushing back on this just because Facebook isn't doing what you think they're doing.

Fire Tony Hayward, BP CEO

Marines in Marja and the Battles to Come

C.J. Chivers, writing in the New York Times, lays out what the current Marine battles in Marja tell us about what the short-term future holds:

Is the violence a predictable summer fight for an area the Taliban and those who profit from the drug economy do not want to lose; in other words, an unsurprising flare-up that can be turned around? Or will Marja remain bloody for a long time, allowing insurgents to inflict sustained losses on American units and win merely by keeping the fight alive?

According to Chivers and the Marines on the ground, it's too soon to tell.

Meanwhile, Marines are wounded by bombs or shot each week. The violence in itself does not mean that the campaign is lost. Fighting is normal to war, a concept sometimes played down in discussions about the United States’ counterinsurgency doctrine, which emphasizes developing relationships with the population and helping government agencies gain credibility and provide services.

Those directly involved caution that a few months of fighting is not necessarily a basis for grim forecasts, especially during the first summer in a former Taliban enclave. American commanders have been voicing frustration nonetheless, as was evident last month in Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s description of Marja as “a bleeding ulcer.”

The remark underscores perhaps the clearest conclusion that can be drawn thus far. Even before the last troops of the Obama administration’s surge arrive in Afghanistan, high-level American commanders appear pressed for time, no matter the complexities faced by troops on the ground.

Chivers points out that Marine tactics have changed in the past year, and the new approach means more direct contact with combatants, compared to earlier reliance on airstrikes and artillery. Less collateral damage to civilians means more wounded and dead Marines.

The pace of Marine patrols has also increased as they seek to perform the most basic of combat techniques - seek and maintain contact with the enemy.

As Chivers notes, everyone feels the pressure of time on combat operations. It's unlikely that the Obama administration will commit more troops or delay the planned 2011 pullout from Afghanistan unless there is empirical evidence of progress.

XKCD - Phobia


Sharron Angle - All Fringe, All The Time

The highlight of Harry Reid's political career must be that joyous moment when Sharron Angle won the Republican primary and become Reid's competition for his Nevada Senate seat.

Expect much amusement in the months ahead as the GOP attempts to downplay Angle's positions while reconciling a future dominated by candidates such as this.

Many Americans believe the Republican party has stumbled too far to the right already. Setting up camp on the fringe of the fringe isn't likely to produce the results Michael Steele desires.

Stevie Ray Vaughan - The Sky is Crying

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Adobe Flash Player Update Fixes 32 Security Flaws

It should tell you something that Adobe's latest Flash Player update, released in response to ongoing exploits of a particular vulnerability, actually plugs 32 holes in the buggy software.

The Metasploit Framework has code that targets the critical flaw previously reported, so don't mess around in getting this update installed. You'll need to run the update for each browser on your system, so if you use Internet Explorer and Firefox, remember to update both.

You can test which version of Flash Player is currently installed by visiting this site with each of your browsers. You can then download and install the correct version at the Flash Player Download page.

If you'd like more information about Adobe's security struggles, check out the following posts:

Critical Adobe Flaw Being Exploited In The Wild - Again

Adobe Reader and Internet Explorer: Most Attacked

The Adobe Attacks Keep On Coming

Adobe To Fix Flash Flaws This Week

Another Day, Another Adobe Zero-Day Exploit

Alfred Hitchcock's 'That's What SHE Said'

Hot Banker Wants To Be 'Tits on a Stick'

I guess we all need to aspire to something. Possibly NSFW depending on whether your boss like hot women and fat dudes on your computer screen.

Watch Debrahlee's Breast Enhancement Surgery - Long Island Plastic Surgical Group in People & Blogs  |  View More Free Videos Online at

Vulnerability in Microsoft Windows Help and Support Function

In the wake of a patch Tuesday that put forth fixes for 34 flaws, Microsoft has issued Security Advisory 2219475 for a publicly-released vulnerability in the help and support center function of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Successful exploit could result in remote code execution.

Google security researchers reported the vulnerability to Microsoft on June 5, and publicly released information about the flaw and how it might be used in attacks on June 9.

Microsoft is obviously cranky at Google for the public disclosure, as evidenced by their snarky entry within their Microsoft Security Response Center blog posting:

As always, Microsoft strives to work with security researchers to address vulnerabilities in our software. This helps ensure that customers receive comprehensive, high-quality updates before cyber criminals learn of - and work to exploit - a vulnerability. Responsible disclosure protects the computer ecosystem and individual computer users from harm.

No exploits in the wild have been publicly reported, and its Microsoft's hope that this remains the case while a fix is developed. The suggested workaround is to unregister the HCP protocol.

This isn't the first time flaws in Microsoft's help center have been reported. Thankfully, the vulnerability is not present in Vista and Windows 7 on the client side, or Server 2000 and Server 2008.

Don't expect an out-of-band patch for this one, unless widespread attacks begin popping up. 

BP Execs Clean Up Coffee Spill

NSFW language, so be warned.

Fabulous Thunderbirds - Tough Enough